What’s yet in this
That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
Lie hid more thousand Deaths: yet Death we fear,
That makes these odds all even.
"Love Is Strong As Death"
We are aware that such what is carved in stone may well acquire a character of absoluteness and it is only our perception and cognizant dexterity that allows us the freedom not to wholly reject concepts in which we do not readily understand. The decaying clock tower stands at the crest of the great eastern hill overlooking old Providence marking the northwestern boundary of Brown University. There is an aspect of melancholy and sorrow about the aging tower with the ivy imposing its unrelenting and unchallenged pressure upon the crumbling ancient limestone bricks. No one alive today can summon any recollection of hearing the great brass bell peal nor does anyone remember observing the four timepieces perform their assigned duty.
As a child, when an opportunity to do so and be sufficiently unnoticed, I would steal away from the family home hurry south along Prospect St. crossing Waterman St. and passing through the small easily overlooked northwest gate of the University grounds. Taking just three steps the boy would find himself before the great iron black door marking the entryway to the tenebrific tower interior which was, he believed, the repository of such unfathomable horrors that one might abruptly burst forth dragging him into one of the age old tunnels beneath the ancient hill through a portal he new existed, now sealed, in the dank sub-cellar of this very tower. Even with this youthful apprehension I would pause, eyes fixed upon the perplexing words carved in granite above the dark iron door "Love Is Strong As Death." There was a real esoteric strangeness about these words and although he could not acquire a sense of meaning the sphinx- like mystery connected with him.
I buried my best friend today. Tonight he stole away unnoticed from the family home walking slowly south along Prospect crossing Waterman passing through the overlooked gateway taking three steps. “Love Is Strong As Death”. The clock tower had suggested something to him many years past and the child now grown is aware of the unseen and undimensioned in- between spaces of reality and like the dying clock tower with its closely guarded sorrows kept imprisoned behind a heavy iron door so I find myself a repository of incomprehensible melancholy, closely guarded and secured, imprisoned beyond my very own heavy iron door.
Dennis James Laux
" In Memoriam"
"Well there was a young girl watching in the early afternoon
When she heard the name of someone who said he'd be home soon
And she wondered how they got him, but the papers did not tell
There would be no sweet reunion, there would be no wedding bells
So she took herself into her room and she turned the bed sheets down
And she cried into the silken folds of her new wedding gown
He tried to do his duty and it took him straight to hell
He might be in some prison, I hope he's treated well".
"The patriot's dream still lives on today
It makes mothers weep and it makes lovers pray
Let's drink to the men who got caught by the chill
Of the patriotic fever and the cold steel that kills".
G. Lightfoot, 1972
Memorial Day, 2014
“How many a year has passed and gone
Many a gamble has been lost and won
And many a road taken by many a first friend
And each one I've never seen again.”
“Some First Few Friends”
• One became a noted artist and musician.
• One became a Colorado music promoter.
• One saved my life – twice.
• One was best man for my first wedding.
• One became a noted artist and published cartoonist.
• One became my daughter’s godfather.
• I married one’s first wife.
• One became a graphic designer for “The Grateful Dead”.
• One married my second wife.
• One became a convicted hold up artist.
• Two I carried to their graves.
• One became a teamster and union activist.
• One was best man for my third marriage.
• One became a mobster.
• One is believed to be living in Tibet.
• One is dying.
• Four have died.
• Seven I have not seen in decades.
Dennis James Laux, 2013
I saw thee once — once only — years ago:
I must not say how many — but not many.
It was a July midnight; and from out
A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber,
Upon the upturned faces of a thousand
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe —
Fell on the upturn'd faces of those roses
That gave out, in return for the love-light,
Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death —
Fell on the upturned faces of these roses
That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted
By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.
Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
I saw thee half-reclining; while the moon
Fell on the upturned faces of the roses,
And on thine own, upturn'd — alas, in sorrow!
"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?"
We are all vainly aware, perhaps vaguely but undeniably so, that Death is looking for us, searching with an unrelenting dutiful purpose and just how close He is to finding us, no man can know. Such was my belief on that bleak moonless evening with its chilly intermittent rain, although hardly remarkable and seasonably typical for any New England early spring evening. It was April 27.
After years of struggle freelancing my photography, I was offered and readily accepted, a position as assistant art director with a small but growing Providence based advertising agency. As I have stated, it was April 27. At precisely 9:21pm my editor called down to the studio informing me, I had received a telephone call on the outside line. “This is Dennis Laux”, I said picking up the phone. “Hello Mr. Laux, this is Dr. Howard Waterman from Rhode Island Hospital, I wanted to let you know that we did everything we possibly could to….. “ Doctor”, I interrupted, “I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re talking about”. (moment)…. (moment)….(moment)….”You don’t know what happened”, he said. This was a statement not a question. (moment)….(moment)….(moment)…. “No”, I said. (moment)….(moment)…. “Mr. Laux, I am sorry to tell you this but there was an accident earlier this evening, your daughter sustained severe head and chest injuries. She died fifteen minutes ago.
“SHE DIED FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO.”
It is hard to explain how a simple English sentence composed of simple English words could so shake and change a man and I can only state that in that very moment the changes were immediate, profound and permanent. Death found her on an unremarkable early spring New England evening. It was April 27. My daughter was twelve. Today is her birthday.
Dennis James Laux, 2013
It was decades ago on Independence Day, as a child of five and the youngest of eleven siblings, that my father walked with me to Prospect Terrace the great precipice overlooking the ancient City of Providence and the forested hills rolling westward into the green New England countryside. He said from that vantage we could view the fireworks not only close by but from every Rhode Island village and town to the very Western horizon. My father spoke that night for the first time of our family line and of its long storied history and of our role in Europe, the Colonies and later America. In 1610, my family was forced to flee France and the extreme persecution of French Huguenots seeking refuge in the German Palatinate where the Counts had been ardent supporters of the Protestant cause during the conflicts in France. It was from Kirberg, Hesse-Nassau that Johann Peter Laux my great, great, great, great grandfather and lineal progenitor arrived in Philadelphia in 1748 and quickly established himself in the many German communities of Eastern Pennsylvania. Johann Peter was in Philadelphia 237 years ago today, July 4, 1776 for the signing of the Declaration of Independence and he was among the crowd during the first public reading of the bold document on July 8, 1776. My father told me that his business had already begun clandestinely sewing uniforms for the soon to be established Continental Army. This man knew Adams, Jefferson, Franklin and Washington.
I can feel the excitement John Peter felt and sometimes I can actually see the event through his own eyes just as I can still see the excitement in my father’s eyes and just as my daughter and later my sons saw the excitement in my eyes. Tonight, as always, I will view the celebrations and the fireworks from Prospect Terrace, the precipice overlooking Old Providence and reflect on the courage of my ancestors, their Revolutionary Spirit and the knowledge that my sons will carry this American Spirit into the eight generation of the Laux family in America.
Dennis James Laux
July 4, 2013